Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

What Helen Zenna Smith did next

It’s good to read someone enthusiastic for Not So Quiet… by ‘Helen Zenna Smith’ (alias Evadne Price). On the Paris Review website, Lucy Scholes makes a strong case for the book (admiring it with fewer reservations than I did in my 2014 paper on Evadne Price and her rather wonderful life of untruths.) Lucy Scholes […]

Arnold Bennett at the MOI

I’ve just added a new piece to my online ‘Pieces of Longer Writing’. It’s the text of a paper I gave at an Arnold Bennett Society conference in Stoke in 2017, giving an account of Bennett’s work when he was at the Ministry of Information in 1918.

Robert Blake (and Sexton)

Sanjay Sircar, a reader of this blog, has sent me an interesting footnote to my long-ago posts about the Sexton Blake detective magazines. His mother , Rani Sircar, wrote a memoir, Dancing Round the Maypole: Growing Out of British India (New Delhi: Rupa, 2003). In this she records that at school in Madras in the […]

Kipling advertises War Bonds

I spent a pleasant day in the British Library at Boston Spa yesterday, looking at copies of the Star evening newspaper for 1918. Among the things that caught my eye was this advertisement for War Bonds, featuring Kipling at his most rhetorically fierce. I’ve read quite a bit of war propaganda over the years, but […]

London Opinion

It’s a long time since I was seriously collecting variations on the ‘white feather’ theme, but today I was delighted to come across a postwar variation on the theme in London Opinion, in early 1919, when everyone was asking when demobilisation was going to happen:

Sound Mirrors

There’s an interesting article on the BBC News website about the concrete sound mirrors erected on the British coast during the First World War. These were designed to catch and amplify the sound of incoming aircraft, and so give warning of air raids. The technology was apparently still being developed till the thirties, when it […]

Commando No 5181

Commando comics have been on sale since 1961. For those who don’t know them – they have a small, square format, containing 64 pages of black-and-white drawings telling a war story, most often about the Second World War. They are published by D.C. Thompson of Dundee, publishers of the once-mighty Beano. The Beano is not […]

P.G. Wodehouse – the Man and his Work

The P.G. Wodehouse exhibition at the British Library that I mentioned a few weeks ago is now happily in place, and Marion and I visited while in London earlier this week. It is a fairly  small affair, in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library room. The last exhibit I saw in that space […]

Munnings as war artist

In my ignorance, I had never realised that Alfred Munnings was a war artist. Has he featured in any of the war painting exhibitions I’ve seen over the years? If so, I don’t remember.  But a war artist he was, in 1918, embedded within the Canadian cavalry, and later with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Usually […]

Not Such Quiet Girls…

This is just a brief note to say how much I enjoyed Not Such Quiet Girls… presented by Opera North in the Howard Assembly rooms in Leeds last week. The main storyline is about a lesbian relationship that flowers in France but collapses with the end of the war. (Hall is perhaps the main influence […]